By Dave Huss
He who hesitates is not only lost, but miles from the next exit. – Anonymous
I am doing something different this weekend I am not writing a book. Since my last column, in October, I have written three books. When you consider that I do have a 'day job', that's positively scary. So, I'm enjoying spending some time renewing old acquaintances, catching up on news, seeing movies I missed and getting some serious photography done for (you guessed it) my next book (my collection of Texas Spring photos can be seen at www.davehuss.com). So, while there isn't any way to catch up with several months of news, who needs old news with all of the current stuff going on?
Mike is Back on Top – No Surprise
Corel Deadline Extended
At one time, Corel owned the PC graphics market. Grand galas, gaudy ads with 3D pie charts showing their overwhelming dominance, paired with their rainbow-colored, hot-air balloon logo seem a distant memory today, with Vector Capital of San Francisco announcing a tentative takeover bid last month that values Corel at between $91 million and $101 million US. When you consider that Corel still has around $77 million in the bank, it makes the low side of the bid a paltry $14 million. The original deadline for this event was extended until early next month, while Vector Capital continues its due diligence. While no one knows what will become of Corel, it is likely that many of its marginal products will be sold off. Already, the procreate and Deepwhite brands appear to be on the verge of extinction and the fate of the graphics and office products is anyone's guess (Say it ain't so, Dave. How could they kill off that cute procreate bunny logo? – Ed.). Because of my long history with Corel, I had written a much larger piece about this, but when the due diligence deadline was extended, I thought it would be better to report the result in my next column, rather than speculate as to what may happen. Sigh. It was a wild ride while it lasted. I have considered writing a book about Corel's brief moment in the sun entitled: Corel - How Defeat was Snatched from the Jaws of Certain Victory, but a similar title is already in print.
Iomega – Losing Focus and Market
What the World Needs is a $200 Ballpoint Pen
Unlike Iomega, Logitech is a company that continues to make cool computer stuff we never even knew we wanted. One of their recent announcements was for the Logitech® io™ personal digital pen. This ballpoint pen records everything you write, and allows you to save and organize exact copies on your computer for safekeeping. The first time I saw the announcement of this jewel, I thought it would record my notes, upload them into my computer (through the USB cradle and charger) and convert my writing into text files. Unfortunately, it doesn't convert the writing, doodles or whatever into anything – it just saves bitmap images of them. I am not discounting this gadget quite yet. If you go through the demo you'll discover that the pen is tightly integrated with Outlook and other office productivity applications – including a package of Post-it notes designed specifically for pen (although they look a lot like the Post-it notes I currently use). The io digital pen could become the hot new ticket this year. Or become one of the many marvelous doodads that come and go in our business. Stay tuned.
Paint Shop Pro 8 – A ReviewSince last year I have been writing my latest book, How to Do Everything with Paint Shop Pro 8, which of course is devoted to Jasc's newest version of their flagship product, Paint Shop Pro. With the increasing popularity of digital cameras, there comes with it an unprecedented demand for software to enhance, correct, manage and print the resulting digital photos. When it comes to photo-editing software, the choices are Photoshop and then all of the other image editors that aren't Photoshop. Few people would disagree that Photoshop is the industry standard. Standard or not, there are several valid reasons for most consumers to not buy Photoshop as their photo editing software. First, it is expensive. Second, for most people that want to work on their digital camera photos, it is overkill. Third, if you have never worked in Photoshop, it has a steep learning curve (it is an almost vertical curve that resembles a wall). These and other reasons are why there are so many less-expensive photo-editors crowding the shelves on your local computer store. Out of all of these Photoshop wannabes in their brightly colored boxes, there are only a few applications that can be used to produce quality output and Paint Shop Pro 8 tops that very short list. So, let's talk about the big question that everyone asks.
What's New in PSP 8?
A New User Interface
As a digital photographer, I have a particular combination of tools that I use all of the time, so the first thing I did with PSP8 was to create a custom toolbar containing all of my favorite tools. The degree of customization that is possible is demonstrated by the fact that you can actually load the Paint Shop Pro 7 workspace that Jasc so thoughtfully provided and make PSP8 look just like PSP7. The only issue I have with the new icons and their arrangement is that the Dodge tool icon looks just like the Zoom tool in Photoshop/Photoshop Elements and, to make matters worse, it appears in roughly the same location on the toolbar. More than once during testing I clicked on the Dodge tool, thinking it was the Zoom tool.
Cool New Tools
New Tools for Photo Correction
Correcting Lens Distortion
The Perspective Correction Tool is another great tool, designed to fix perspective errors in an image. When you identify an object in the image that should be rectangular, you just need to position the handles on the corners of the object. Applying the tool will correct the image, so that the selected object becomes rectangular. In the following before and after, pay close attention to the building on the left side. As with any perspective correction, you lose part of the image when you apply the correction, like the towers on the right side of the original photo.
Digital Camera Data Preserved
Improved Plugin Support
Improved Selection Tools and Features
Remove Specks And Holes is another new selection feature that is a godsend to anyone who has used the Magic Wand tool and ended up with a virtual sea of little specks and tiny islands of unselected areas winking back at you. This feature removes unattached specks outside a selection, or holes within it, according to size.
Zooming In and Out
The Text tool is Improved – A Little
New Picture Frames
So, should you invest your hard-earned dollars in Paint Shop Pro 8? This decision is a no-brainer – buy it. If you already own a previous version of Paint Shop Pro, you'll find the new version is a vast improvement over the previous one (which is still a good photo editor). You can download a 30-day evaluation version and give it a spin before spending any money. The new user pricing is $109 for the boxed product and $99 for the electronic download version. The upgrade price is $49 for either, if you own a previous licensed version of PSP. If you own a licensed version of Adobe Photoshop/Photoshop Elements, Roxio Photosuite, MS PictureIt!, Ulead PhotoImpact or Corel DRAW/PHOTO-PAINT, you can receive $30 cash back by mail (after you pay the new user pricing). Go to the Jasc order site for more information about this.
David Huss has authored 15 books on digital image editing that have been translated into eight languages and writes articles for Photoshop User and Nikon Capture magazine. A popular conference speaker, he has taught workshops in the US and Europe and he has been seen on CNN and Tech TV. A third-generation Texan, he and his family have called Austin, Texas their home for the past 30 years.